By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Throughout my entire career as a legislator, I have advocated for reforms to the corrections and justice system.
Seeing the failings of the justice system, first hand as a young lawyer in the public defender’s office is the primary reason I decided to run for public office.
As the former chair of the Judiciary Committee, I instated the first tour of the justice system.
During this tour we visited every major corrections facility in Wisconsin, where we spoke to administrators, staff, inmates, and advocacy groups to collect data about the current state of Wisconsin’s prison system.
The data was analyzed by the Justice Center, a DC based corrections reform advocacy firm, to determine the triggers for individuals entering our system.
Additionally, there were specific policies we needed to reform in order to reduce incarceration and recidivism in our state.
To my dismay, all the necessary reforms were not implemented and Wisconsin’s corrections population and budget continue to grow.
Now we have arrived at a place where Wisconsin is leading the nation in the incarceration of African American men, and corrections have ballooned to 874 million dollars a year.
As a result of my continued advocacy as the co-chair of the Minority Unemployment Taskforce, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch asked me to join the Executive committee for the Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies Pilot Project in Milwaukee.
The pilot project will be completed over the course of three years.
The pilot’s first step will focus on collecting information about what a good “client matching system,” National Reentry Resource Center’s research division will analyze the population of prisoners trying to reenter Milwaukee’s workforce, assessing its needs and working to determine its varying levels of criminogenic risks and job readiness.
Researchers will also study area providers that specialize in services for criminals reentering the workforce.
Their assessment will gauge how well these providers can meet the workforce development needs of the population and address criminogenic risk.
That data will inform the project’s goal of ensuring the right systems are in place to get individuals through the right doors into the right programs, with integrated support from corrections on the front end and providers on the back end.
I look forward to working with the committee to tackle the hard issues and garnering the support to institute statewide reform.